Monday, January 05, 2015

media update: December

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a lovely holiday season.  G-Vo and I went to Florida for a week and stayed with his parents, who were renting a house in the same town where my dad and stepmother live, so that was convenient.  G-Vo's sister, brother-in-law, and nephews joined us as well, and we spent the week hanging out, playing games, eating tons of good food, and relaxing.  We also visited a few attractions as well.  My favorite: the magnificently kitschy Weeki Wachee mermaids.  I've wanted to go there forever, because I have a serious soft spot for things like that, and it did not disappoint in all its cheeseball glory.

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. You* by Caroline Kepnes:  Joe is instantly smitten when a young woman named Beck walks into the bookstore where he works.  It's a classic "meet cute" story, but with a twist:  Joe is fucking nuts. I won't say any more lest I inadvertently spoil something (speaking of which, don't read the inside cover, which definitely ruins shit); I'll just add that it's twisted and darkly funny and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

2. Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown:  After 14-year-old Marley disappears, leaving a message in the kitchen, her mother Rachel is frantic.  She and her husband begin a social media campaign to find Marley, but a secret Rachel is hiding comes back to bite her in the ass.  There's no real suspense in this book, since we find out pretty quickly what happened to Marley, so it wasn't as engrossing as it could have been.

3. A Life in Men by Gina Frangello:  Mary and Nix have been friends for many years, but when they take a vacation to Greece, something happens that dooms their relationship, and they drift apart.  Three years later, Mary finds out that Nix is dead, and she returns to Europe to try to figure out what killed their friendship.  It's not bad, but it became a real slog near the end.

4. The Jewel* by Amy Ewing:  Since she was young, Violet has been trained to serve royalty, and when she comes of age, she's sold for a high price at auction.  Because she has the rare ability to affect the growth and appearance of things, her sole purpose in life is to be a surrogate for her mistress, "custom building" the fetus as it grows within her.  Needless to say, Violet isn't too happy with this idea, and she wants out of the arrangement.  It's like a YA version of The Handmaid's Tale, and although it's obviously not as well written as that book, I really enjoyed it.  Warning, though:  it ends on a MAJOR cliffhanger (I actually yelled "WHAT?!"), so if this sounds interesting to you, you may want to wait until the entire trilogy has been published.

5. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers:  This is the final book in the Fair Assassin trilogy, so I can't review it properly lest I spoil its predecessors.  I'll just say that it was pretty good and leave it at that.

6. The Killer Next Door* by Alex Marwood:  Roy Preece runs a boardinghouse in London, accepting only cash and not doing any background checks, which draws a certain type of renter.  All six of the tenants have their reasons for living in such a shithole, and one of them is a murderer.  Vivid characters made this an especially enjoyable read.

7. Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam:  After her former best friend commits suicide, Aubrey reluctantly returns to her hometown for the funeral.  I probably would have liked it more if there had been a single sympathetic character in the entire book, if there hadn't been so many typos (one choice example: "his hairy arm squeezing around my waste"), and if the ending hadn't sucked so bad.

8. Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter:  Perry and Baby Girl are friends who enjoy stealing cars and flirting online with a man who isn't quite what he seems.  Unrelentingly bleak.

TOTAL READ IN 2014:  121


1. The World of PostSecret* edited by Frank Warren:  A new collection of secrets from the popular website.

2. Kawaii! Japan's Culture of Cute* by Manami Okazaki and Geoff Johnson:  A very enjoyable look at all things kawaii, ranging from elaborate bento boxes to the ever adorable Hello Kitty.  I particularly liked the interview with artist Macoto Takahashi, whose aesthetic really appeals to me.

TOTAL READ IN 2014:  20


1. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

TOTAL READ IN 2014: 55 volumes of manga and 27 graphic novels


1. The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears:  A man comes home from a business trip only to discover that his wife is missing, and in his quest to find her, he descends into a hellish fever dream.  A pitch perfect homage to giallo that could have been a great movie, but it's so fucking confusing that it's merely a good one.  I definitely wouldn't recommend it to someone who's never watched a giallo flick before.  (Try Suspiria instead.)

2. How to Train Your Dragon 2:  While exploring, Hiccup and his dragon Toothless discover a place inhabited by hundreds of dragons and a mysterious woman and have to protect them from a bad guy who wants to create a dragon army.  It was a bit overhyped, but very pretty, and I loved the scenes with Viking girl Ruffnut perving over a dude voiced by Kit "Jon Snow" Harington.

3. The Expendables 3:  I'm not even going to bother summarizing the plot, because there isn't much of one.  Dumb but enjoyable.

4. The Purge: Anarchy*:  In the near future, for 12 hours every year, America legalizes all crime, ostensibly to let people get it out of their system.  Several people who get stuck outside during the Purge band together to try to survive the night.  I liked the original fine, but this one was much better.

5. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead:  After surviving a Nazi zombie massacre, Martin wakes up in the hospital only to find that he's received an arm transplant...from one of the zombies.  This gives him certain powers, so he bands together with excited wannabe zombie slayers and undead Russian soldiers to take the Nazis down once and for all.  Tons of extra gooey gore and deliciously dark humor made this a fun watch, especially on Christmas!

TOTAL SEEN IN 2014: 57

SEEN IN THE THEATER: X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy

SEEN ON A CRUISE SHIP:  The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Divergent


1. "Close Your Eyes" by Orange Caramel

2.  "Switchback" by Celldweller

3. "Firewater" by Blue Stahli

4. "Superblast!" by Lush

5. "Cherry Bomb" by The Runaways

6. "My Sharona" by The Knack

7. "That Was Then But This Is Now" by ABC

8. "Adagio in G Minor" by Tomaso Albinoni

9. "Can We Postpone Love" by Orange Caramel

10. "Bangkok City" by Orange Caramel

11. "Redemption" by Norman Corbell

12. "Fly Routine" by Hostile Groove

13. "World's End Dancehall" by Hatsune Miku

14. "French Kiss" by Yakooza

15. "Something Good" by Utah Saints

16. "Jimmy Still Comes Around" by The Loud Family

17. "Self-Righteous Boy Reduced to Tears" by The Loud Family